Wyoming’s Most Historic Bars and Saloons
Yesterday, K2 Radio reported that Casper's "World Famous" Wonder Bar will be closing next month. New owners are expected to take over in a few months and, hopefully, will keep its tradition alive.
Originally known at the Mint Bar, it was renamed Wonder Bar in 1934 and quickly became the cornerstone of Saloon Row, a popular block of bars located on South Center Street. The Wonder Bar is best known for their tradition of allowing horses in the bar, which began in the ’40s.
While the Wonder Bar is certainly one of Wyoming's most historic watering holes, it's not the oldest.
Here’s a list of the oldest continuously operating saloons in the Cowboy State.
1. Miner’s and Stockmen’s in Hartville, Wyoming – 32 miles east of Wheatland, near the Guernsey Reservoir off of State Highway 26, lies the tiny town of Hartville, population 62, the oldest incorporated town in Wyoming.
While its days as a mining boom town in the late 19th century are long gone, there is still one local business that’s thriving. Miner’s and Stockmen’s Steakhouse and Spirits was established in 1862, proudly holding the title as Wyoming’s oldest bar.
2. The Occidental Hotel in Buffalo – Set at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains near the old Bozeman Trail, this historic landmark has been serving thirsty travelers since 1880.
Over the years, the rustic saloon has hosted many celebrities, including Buffalo Bill Cody, Calamity Jane, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Tom Horn, author Ernest Hemingway and two United States Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover.
3. The Bozeman Trail Inn in Big Horn – 10 miles south of Sheridan lies the small, unincorporated town of Big Horn. Although the nearby Bozeman Trail dates back to the mid-1860s, the town wasn’t founded until 1881.
A year later, in 1882, The Bozeman Trail Inn officially opened for business and is still going strong. The tavern underwent a half million dollar renovation in 2006, preserving its history for generations to come.
4. The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar in Jackson – Originally constructed in the late 1890s, this site was among the earliest commercial buildings in the area. After serving as a doctor’s office, and later as the town’s first bank, it eventually became Ruby’s Cafe and Beer Garden.
In 1937, it was renamed the Cowboy Bar and was granted Wyoming’s first official liquor license following the repeal of prohibition. Renamed the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar in the 1940s, it remains one of Jackson’s most popular tourist destinations to this day.
5. The Buckhorn Bar in Laramie – Dating back to 1900, this venerable institution is Laramie’s longest running bar.
Built 14 years after the University of Wyoming was established, the old Buckhorn is still a popular hangout for students and is a vital part of the historic Ivinson Street district downtown.
Other historic Wyoming watering holes include the College Inn Bar in Douglas, founded in 1906 on the former site of another historic saloon “Lee’s Pringle’s”, which dates all the way back to 1887. Following the construction of the College Inn, a new version Pringle’s was opened two blocks away and is still operating.
Built in 1907, The Mint Bar is Sheridan’s oldest bar. It is regionally renowned for its iconic neon sign and its back room, which served as a speakeasy during prohibition.
The lobby bar at the Historic Plains Hotel, which opened in 1911, is Cheyenne’s oldest continuously running bar. Though currently unoccupied, the Tivoli Building remains one of the most recognized landmarks in the Capital City. The Victorian structure opened in 1892, originally housing a saloon and brothel and later becoming a cold storage facility for Pabst Beer.